Subject: Dreams of Marine Biologist Career

Aldemaro Romero (aRomero@herald.infi.net)
Sun, 08 Mar 1998 22:41:00 -0500

> Date: Fri, 06 Mar 1998 19:12:08 -0500 (EST)
> From: ATHOS27 <ATHOS27@aol.com>
> To: aRomero@ACC.FAU.EDU, pita@whale.wheelock.edu
> Subject: my dreams
> 
> hello, my name is Trina Corlione and I have dreamed of studying marine mammals
> since I was a child.  I have an Associate's Degree in Science from Henry Ford
> Community College.  What steps would you suggest that I take to increase my
> chances for a successful career in Marine Biology.
> My ultimate goal is to observe whales in their natural habitat.  I want to get
> into the research aspect of the field,  I have a passion for these animals
> that I cannot explain.   I realize that you are extremely busy, I can really
> use the advice.

Dear Trina:

The first thing that you need to understand is that in order to become a
marine biologist you need to become a scientist. That means that you
will spend most of your time reading, writing, studying, with very
little of observing whales in their natural environment. I do not want
to discourage anyone from being what I am, a professional scientist, but
for more than 20 years I have been approached by many who believe that
the life of a marine biologist is like the life of Cousteau or some
other celebrity. Nothing farther from the truth. If all what you want to
do is to observe these animals in their natural environment, you need to
search in your soul what you really want to accomplish in life.
Hopefully a stable profession will enable you to watch whales as a
tourist in many places around the world.  But if what you really want to
be is a marine biologist, you must know that that is one of the
specialties with the largest contingencies of unemployed biologists: it
is just very popular and jobs are scarce. As simple as that.

If you still want to joint the group of people like me that, no matter
what the difficulties, still want to be a marine biologist, here is my
advice.

You should first complete your bachelors' degree in biology and try to
do it in some college that offers courses not only in marine biology but
also in marine mammals and related areas such as comparative anatomy of
vertebrates, ecology, animal behavior, etc.  Try to take as many courses
that offer field experience as possible and make sure that at least one
of the faculty in that college does work on marine mammals so you may
have the opportunity to learn, first hand, the trade. Then head for
graduate school with a more precise idea of what you want to do: study
their behavior?, ecology? May be you want to go rather to a Vet school
and see the opportunities for working in aquariums... Or may be you want
to become a microbiologist and deal with the increasing problem of
whales and dolphins dying of infectious diseases. Time will tell.

Best wishs and good luck.

Aldemaro Romero, Ph.D.